The Palm Tree Illusion

The beauty of this tall growing tree, is nothing but pure illusory.

a reflection of myself as I kneel beside the car. The door handle blocks part of the palm tree on the left, leaving the palm of the right, standing tall. Behind me is a crimson color bush which blends well with the blue sky.
2016 Self image as I gazed, amazed at the tall Palm trees

I moved to southern California two years ago and being the tree-lover that I am, I immediately fell in love with the Palm trees. They were unlike any tree that grew in my native Midwest state of Michigan.

landscape of palm trees with two main ones up front with a jet between the two, taking off in the distance
I couldn’t pass up capturing the jet between the two palm trees

Those huge Palm tree leaves meant one thing to me; no more raking leaves in the fall!  Right? Are you following me?

close up of the tines of a rake, resting against a tree, with a small pile of raked leaves between rake and trunk.
Pixabay.com image

When I lived in Michigan, raking leaves in the yard was something you did before the first snow fell. Here in southern California, the Palm trees do not have deciduous leaves, such as the Maple, Hickory and Oak trees. Instead, Palm trees have huge foliage, not leaves. I’d imagine you would not want to be under a Palm tree “leaf” when it chooses to drop.

palm-3860894_640.jpg
Pixabay.com image showing how large the “leaf” of the Palm tree is.

What are Palm tree leaves called?

Palm tree leaves are called fronds. They grow from the crown or top of the palm tree. The frond weighs 20 lbs./9.5 kg on average.There are three main types of fronds; fan, feather and entire.

A multi-level parking ramp has the top of a palm tree, draping leaves inside parking ramp.
We were several levels up in this parking ramp. This ‘fan-shaped frond’ from the tall Palm tree below, rests on the ledge, in its own shade

Fan fronds are shaped like…..you guessed it, like a fan. The leaves fan out from a central point on the leaf stalk.

looking up the tall 'trunk' of a palm tree as it displays its feather-fronds at the top
Pixabay.com image of a Palm tree with ‘feather-shaped’ frond

Feather fronds are shaped like….you guessed it, like a feather. The leaves are on both sides of the long leaf stalk.

A large bunch of bananas growing, showing the banana leaf to be of a Entire-variety frond
pixabay.com image of how the winds can tatter and tear the banana’s entire fronds

Entire fronds are shaped like a single leaf. A Banana tree is a Palm tree with a single leaf, or an entire frond.

a short dwarf palm tree in a parking lot, has a hummingbird resting in its shade
When this friendly hummingbird (above the “n”) stopped for a rest on this ‘dwarf’ Palm tree, I quickly grabbed its picture

Palm trees grow a variety of heights, from the Dwarf varieties (image above) up to the tall ones that tower over houses and buildings (image below) some 80 feet/24 meters high or more!

palm trees towering high over a 3 story high hotel complex
As we approached our vehicle in the multi-level parking lot, I took this image, showing the Palm trees towering over the 3-story building

Soon after settling in to our new surroundings, it was brought to my attention, that a Palm tree was not really a tree.

Not a tree? Do you want to guess what it is?

Go ahead…..take a guess!

When a Palm tree is not a tree, what is it?

Ready for this? The Palm tree is a grass. Was that your guess? Or did you know that Palm trees are grouped botanically with grasses? Not only grasses, but also with sedge, bamboo, grains, lilies, onions and orchards. Were you aware of that? I certainly was not.

Apparently, a Palm tree has more in common genetically with turf grass or corn, than it has with an Oak tree. Palm trees are a grass giant.

Here are the two main differences that set Palm trees out of the Tree family:

  1. the Palm tree does not create ‘rings’ as it grows.
    1. a tree’s growth ring is seen when a tree is cut down.

      a freshly cut tree trunk, exposes its growth rings in a beautiful redwood color wood
      Pixabay.com image
  2. the Palm tree does not grow bark. The outside and inside of a Palm tree are the same.

I see Palm trees everywhere, since moving out west. They intrigue me. I was surprised to learn there are over 2,500 species of Palm trees. Most people know that coconuts come from the Palm tree, but so do dates, bananas, betel nuts and acai fruit along with palm oil. And yet, it truly amazes me that these tall plants are merely a grass.

Palm trees are not a tree, they are a giant grass. What purpose does that serve, I asked myself? Palm trees have been around for a while. They are mentioned several times in the bible. Palm tree history with humans is as old as the first societies. Probably older, which leads my imagination on a journey of the purpose palm trees served.

DINOSAURS, of course!

It is obvious to me, that this could have been Dino food. I can see it now as the dinosaurs meandered about, the tops of the Palm trees provided succulent vegetation for them. I imagine they chomped down coconuts as we would do with an espresso bean.

And as I look around, gazing at all the different Palm trees, my mind begins to wander once again. Eventually, I spy a peculiar looking Palm tree in the near distance.

an artificial palm tree with cylinders atached to its foliage
what kind of a Palm tree was this?

Which turned out to be a fake Palm tree with cylinders attached to the foliage area. What are they for? What purpose does this serve? How many other people have noticed this odd giant?

a tall fake palm tree used to hide cylinders and other devices in the foliage
I am not sure what I have found here, but it sure is not a Palm tree

And my imagination spins in awe…..

The Palm Tree Illusion

Things aren’t always as they seem to be,
says the tall grass who was once a tree.
~ renagain original

Thank you for your interest in this Palm tree experience from exploring my world. Give me a shout below. Let me know what your prior/current knowledge was/is of this tree-imposter.
ren

resources:

SF Gate – variety of palm fronds

Suprising palm tree facts

Mother Nature Network about Palm trees

Featured image by ren

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